Ostrich Fern is a stately, vase-shaped fern that grows between 3-5 feet tall and has a 2-3 foot spread. It makes for a dramatic addition to a shade garden during the summer months before falling dormant by early fall.
Matteuccia struthiopteris is tolerant of a wider variety of soil types, unlike most other ferns, however it is still particular about preferring shade.
The Ostrich Fern is perfect for preventing soil erosion around woodland water sources when planted in large groups. Notably, the early growth of these ferns are called “fiddleheads”, and are edible.
Use: Must be cooked to be edible, and this is the only edible fern native to our area. The flavor is similar to asparagus. Pick the unfurled part of the fern (crozier) before they fully unroll. Be sure the curl is tight. About 1" of the stem with the crozier can be eaten as well. You can find more information about how to prepare them here.
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Photos 2, 3, and 4 courtesy of Dan Wilder
Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich fern)
SIZE: 1 gallon pot type: fern sun needs: shade to part shade water needs: moist to average soil height: 4' plant spacing: 2' distance
good plant companions
Sweet fern, trillium, bloodroot
edible parts: cooked fiddleheads, only when still curled tight, around April. Unsafe to eat raw. See description for more information. deer resistant (please note that does not mean deer proof)